When Apple finally moved to USB-C, it did so very much the Apple way. This includes submission Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) Pro cable, $130One is actually $160 if you need the full 3 metres. Can a single cable, an object whose function is to transmit power and data without anyone ever noticing, be worth that much money?
Lumafield, maker of manufacturing-oriented industrial CT scanners, He examined this question across three dimensions. After scanning the best Apple cable, a Amazon Essentials Model $10and USB-C cables costing $5.59 and $3.89, Lumafield didn’t have a specific answer other than “we buy cables that meet our needs” and that “there’s a lot of room for smart engineering and efficient manufacturing” within a seemingly specific specification like USB-C.
But we can say that if your goal is to buy one cable that will withstand abuse, perform at the power and data speeds of today and reasonably far tomorrow, and remove cables from the list of things that could be the problem? Lumafield images show why Apple’s Alpha cable might be worth it.
24 pins, 9-ply board, stainless steel
the Neptune industrial X-ray CT machine It is 6 feet wide and costs $75,000 per year under a standard contract, including advanced imaging and diagnostic software and support. By placing Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 Pro USB-C cable inside, Neptune was able to literally see everything going into it. You can look at it too, at Web version of Lumafield’s Voyager.
Using radiation and CT, you can see that the Apple cable has 24 pins, each of which is mounted separately on a printed circuit board assembly. These pins pass through a “forest of blind and buried passages,” or lines of communication that run between components, both within the inner layers (blind) and sometimes entirely within them (buried). To reliably reach the rated data transfer rate of 40 Gb/s, extreme caution must be taken. Parallel lines extending from a line around a curve are positioned as “oscillations,” leveling the distance for tracking on the inside track.
It’s all encased in hard plastic, sitting atop a stainless steel shield that’s fully bonded to the connector, and a one-piece crimped on eight sides where the wire meets the connector. The cable is, in Lomafield’s words, “an amazing piece of precision engineering.”
Apple’s cable is rated higher than most other USB-C cables you can buy, and supports Thunderbolt 4, USB 4, 40 Gbps, and 100 watts of power. However, you may be wondering how different a low-rated, low-priced cable can be. It turns out to be very different, although sometimes not in the price/design order you might think.
look at me AmazonBasics cable, rated at 60 watts and 480 Mbps data, there were half as many pins, and eight of those 12 pins were jumped instead of being relegated individually to the PCBA. There is a metal shield, less aggressive strain relief, and a fully grounded shell. It has the necessary parts to classify it.
Then there are the cables that are under $10, and they look like that. One $5 cable — since discontinued at Amazon — has no shielding, an ungrounded, non-reinforced structure, a rubber strain relief, and its pins run directly to the wires, with no pad in between. It also seems to lack the ability to provide the speeds it claims. The roughly $4 cable has this, with a full 24 pins for what could be a more robust connection, though some are only used for power connection only.
You can use an in-browser program to get a full X/Y/Z and 3D rotational view of each cable At the Lomafield location. A $130 cable may not seem like it’s worth it to you, but the inside of an expensive cable is sometimes filled with more than hot air.
Listing image by Lumafield
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